Archive for the ‘Presidential election’ Category

Panetta’s Pivot


By John Feehery

Hillary Clinton official Secretary of State portrait crop.jpg

“Hillary Clinton official Secretary of State portrait crop” by United States Department of State – [1]. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The biggest danger to Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House in 2016 is not a challenge from the left in the primaries or a challenge from the right in the general election.

The biggest danger to the Ready for Hillary Juggernaut is Barack Obama. (more…)

“Hard Choices” and the GOP


By John Feehery

Hillary Clinton official Secretary of State portrait crop

Originally Published on The Hill

As Hillary Clinton starts peddling her new book and preparing for her presidential run, Republicans should carefully consider how they can prepare a defense against her. (more…)

Walking Away from a Train Wreck


By John Feehery


I never heard of, but apparently they were the ones that broke the big story yesterday, the story of how Team Clinton slowly but surely walks away from the train wreck that is the Obama Presidency.

“I personally believe, even if it takes a change in the law, that the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they’ve got,” is what the former President said to said about the current President. (more…)



By John Feehery


I know I am asking a lot here.

But the new health care needs a new name.

Let’s stop calling it Obamacare.

Here is my reasoning.

If you want to repeal a law, you need Democratic help.   They will never vote to repeal a law named after a President that they nominated twice and got elected twice.

The term Obamacare came initially from a health care lobbyist named Jeanne Schulte Scott, according to Wikipedia.   She was describing a series of health care proposals put forward by  various politicians and Obamacare turned out to candidate Obama’s take on it.

It was Mitt Romney who first used Obamacare as part of a political attack.  In 2007, before Mr. Obama had won his first primary, Romney accused candidate Obama of pushing for socialized, government-run health care, which of course, is distinct from whatever Romney did in Massachusetts (or at least, that’s what Romney tried to convince people).

After the President successfully enacted his proposal, a competition developed between proponents and opponents of the law.  The President memorably said that he supported the term “Obamacare”.  “I have no problem saying Obama cares.  I do care.”

The Department of Health and Human Services, in fact, bought Google Ads tied to the keyword “Obamacare”, to steer people back to the official HHS site.  The Obama campaign also embraced Obamacare as if it were a positive accomplishment.

But the Tea Party was born thanks to Obamacare.

Tea Party patriots (as they like to call themselves) were mobilized chiefly by opposing the President’s new law.  Sarah Palin talked about death panels,  Rush Limbaugh warned about the dire impact of Obamacare, and lately, Ted Cruz did a fake filibuster promising to stop the President’s law by defunding it.

Obamacare didn’t dominate the Presidential debate, as much as some folks would have liked.  But now that we are getting closer to implementation, we should think clearly about whether the energy that is expended in complaining about it actually helps or hurts the cause in changing it.

There is a bit of a Obama derangement syndrome.

Anything associated with this President drives conservatives absolutely batty.  They go nuts and they can’t think rationally.

That derangement syndrome actually helped to drive the right wing on this silly effort to shut down the government to force the President to defund his own law.

That was never going to happen, and it has proved to be a serious distraction from the very real troubles that have dogged the new law.

We might be better off taking the President’s name of the law, and trying to approach this debate more rationally.

There is another reason why it might behoove us to change the terms of the debate.

What if the law turns out to be amazingly popular?

That probably won’t happen, but then again, people said the same thing about Social Security.

We don’t call the Social Security program, Roosevelt-care, do we?

So, let’s stop calling the Affordable Care Act Obamacare?

Let’s call it G-Care, short for government health care.

That’s what it is and it might be easier to get Democrats to repeal parts of the G-Care than it will be to get them to repeal Obamacare.

Learning From Obama


By John Feehery


The President’s second inaugural brilliantly pushed forward his political agenda in ways that Republicans need to understand and learn from.

Republicans will never be able to outbid the President when it comes to coalition politics.  But they need to appreciate how coalition politics, as practiced by the Democrats in the Obama era, is played and they need to come up with a game plan to counter it.

The President’s message was aspirational for the country, inspirational for his coalition partners and infuriating for his opposition.  He was able to make the cause of his diverse coalition – gays, immigrants, anti-gun people, African-Americans, Hispanics, poor people – seemingly the most important cause of the nation.  And he dared the Republicans to oppose it.

He skillfully weaved the story of America into the story of these coalition partners, ignoring the arguments from the other side, and posited in unsubtle terms that to oppose his agenda was essentially un-patriotic.

Most importantly, the President set out a road-map to complete the mission.  His message was sharply positive, and he promised to give his partners something, not take something away from the people who elected him.

Republicans keep promising the American people, and these same coalition partners, that they are going to take things away, all in the name of fiscal restraint.  Republicans used to argue for growing the pie, in the name of economic growth.  Now, they argue that everything is too expensive and that benefits must be cut.  They are like the teetotalers who show up a Keg party and tell everybody that drinking beer is bad for you.

Mitt Romney’s campaign, for example promised to stop a tax break for wind energy in Iowa.  That may have given Mitt some fiscal credibility, but it also lost him Iowa.

Republicans don’t do coalition politics very well, which could probably explain why they don’t have a very big coalition any more.   But instead of outbidding Obama, they could try to talk about the universal benefits of their policies, tailored more specifically to each group.

But first, they have to stop hating people.  They have to stop hating gay people, Hispanic people, black people, single females, thesbians, etc. and they have to condemn their so-called allies who go out of their way to offend them.

They have to then start talking about economic growth.  And they can’t talk about economic growth only with their big donors or in their districts.  They have to talk about economic growth in the big cities, in areas beset by poverty, for immigrants, for Hispanics, for Asians, for blacks.

They need to ditch their anti-government message and develop an economic growth message.   They need to come up with politics where government can be transformed to help spur growth.  Getting rid of all government won’t work.  Making government work better will work.

They need to get onto a personal security message.   They need to think critically about how to change the war on drugs into a war on addiction.  They need to think less about throwing people into jail after a crime is committed and more about making sure the crime isn’t committed in the first place.  This message will work especially well in high crime areas.

Republicans need a political reform message.  They have got their heads handed to them on voter fraud in the last election.  That was seen as an effort to suppress the vote, a bad message for a party that has inherited a good portion of the Dixiecrat coalition.   Clean elections should include campaign finance reform, earmark reform and over-all making sure that more people who want to vote, can vote.   We should be pushing for a bigger political pie because we want more voters, not fewer voters, to vote for us.  We should drop cynicism as a political strategy.   If Republicans promise and then deliver cleaner, more honest elections, they will be promising the voters something they actually want.

Republicans also need to expand the pro-family message that the party thinks it has a lock on.  A two-parent family usually does better than a single-parent family, for obvious reasons.  Twice the resources (quite often), twice the parental involvement, twice the efficiency in spending.  But Republicans don’t need to get all preachy about it.  And a pro-family message doesn’t have to be anti-gay.   While marriage is important and I am big supporter of it, successful families don’t necessarily include marriage.   It can include the extended family that comes from many immigrant communities.  Republicans should be all for keeping these family together with common sense immigration policies.  The important things that come from a family are love, stability, teamwork, and the creation of good habits for the kids, which helps makes them better citizens for all of us.  The world is a complex place and it is changing rapidly.  The GOP shouldn’t be stuck pining for the past.  They should be promoting policies that make it easier for families (in all of their forms) to thrive in the future.

America wants a positive message from its political leaders.  It also wants to know what the politicians are going to do for them, not to them.  A e can trump Obama’s brand of goodies for every separate group.  But first the GOP has to try it.


Sign up for The Feehery Theory mailing list and receive an email each time a blog is posted.

  • Quotable, up-to-the-minute opinions.
  • Insider perspective of a Capitol Hill veteran and Republican pundit.
  • Never miss a post.

Subscribe now for theories on all things, but mostly politics.